02 September 2005

Basawan is a genius

we are in DC, and I went up to Baltimore yesterday to see the exhibition of Akbar-period Mughal paintings at the Walters Art Gallery in an exhibition called The Pearls of the Parrot in India. The manuscript has been unbound for conservation, and so while it's in pieces they decided to do an exhibition of the folios. John Seyeller of the University of Vermont did a huge research project on the manuscript several years ago and so the exhibition has great helpful and informative text, and even a little wall activity in which you can play connoisseur, attributing the paintings to the correct artist. Very fun.

And Mughal painting is amazing. It's not my field at all, but I just love looking at these works. They are painstakingly painted, beautiful, and layered with meaning. The feats of the artists are just unparalleled. Okay, maybe Persian painting, and a few others. I might give you Caravaggio. Or more parallel, van Eyck. But still. This is amazing stuff. Basawan, one of the top artists of the court, just cannot be matched. the link above gives you the barest sense of my favorite painting in the exhibition. the horse in the bottom right corner is absolutely astounding, the vegetation above the cave is amazing. and the figures are just fantastic.

moral of the story: go see Mughal painting when you can. Many museums have at least one example, but the best are the Met in New York (where this image is), the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and several museums in the UK.

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